Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #308

Legion of Super-Heroes #308 was the middle chapter of the Omen/Prophet storyline, an arc which has typically been much maligned both at the time it was released as well as looking at with the passage of time. 

Does it deserve such vitriol? Reading it now, I will admit it isn't a great story. It probably isn't a good story. But it isn't a stinker. I think the reason it suffers is because it was released just after one of the highest points for these characters. It has to pale in comparison. Nothing gold can stay.

I also think it suffers because this is the first time we see Giffen's new style of art. It isn't polished. It doesn't have the organic lushness of his earlier issues. And it is new. After basically two years of brilliant style, readers had to get used to this new look.

And one more thing, the villain here ... the Prophet and the Omen ... they just don't have that personality that we Legion fans have come to expect. These were just powerful beings tromping through. I can't help but think of them as the poor man's Galactus and herald. 

This issue, in particular, suffers a bit from 'middle chapter syndrome'. Not much happens.

Still, I think if I read this story in an Outsiders book, I'd be satisfied. It just doesn't sparkle the way this book had.

'And the sky itself shall burn!' was plotted by writer Paul Levitz and artist Keith Giffen with inks from Larry Mahlstedt. Colorist Carl Gafford again shines in this surreal battle, blasting us with yellows and pinks as the fight rages on.

We start with a decent splash of the Prophet, on Khundia, preaching of the arrival of his master. He might be preaching the coming of the Omen but he wants the Omen to die. He is begging for the Khunds to turn their weapons to the sky.

I love this page because of the layout. Prophet being in silhouette adds a nice contrast to the weapons of war behind him.

The Legionnaires arrive to try to stop the Prophet. They have seen the devastation of the science asteroid Trewsk. They have seen the effect on Corvan IV. They know his power.

But the Prophet's visions are warped, feverish, and twisted. You can see from the Prophet's viewpoint, the approaching Legionnaires are monsters and demons. He assumes these are troops sent by the Omen to stop his warning.And he is going to fight back.

The message is strange. And his motives are a bit indecipherable. But here we are.

Meanwhile on Khundia, the Legionnaires already present with the UP have been sequestered. The Khunds think the Legion away team tracking the Prophet are invading. And they have no idea who the Prophet is. They assume he is working with the UP as well. As a result, the treaty negotiations are over.

I do like the little Dream Girl moment, complaining her hair is a mess in the chaos.

As for plot B, Dawnstar continues to search the cosmos for her soul mate. Her travels have cover half the universe and has taken her to the insane Dream Nebula. But still she is alone.

This is a gorgeous page. I love the madness of the realm, the lack of borders and multiple images of Dawnstar, adding a surreal feel.

And, at this point, all the Wildfire/Dawny fans were thinking she was going to come up empty, that her search would lead her home to Drake. Will it??

Thankfully, and perhaps a bit classically, Levitz has the Prophet monologue, doing an info dump of his origin. The prophet was the religious leader on Trewsk, the father of Invisible Kid's friend. He left Trewsk for a spiritual vocation conference.

During his absence, a flock of beasts, basically space squids, migrated through the galaxy and converged around the science center. And then, the dual suns flashed nova, razing the entire planetoid.

The Prophey returned and was devastated. Survivor's guilt? Crisis of faith? Whatever his reasons, this preacher decided to end his life by flying into the very star that burned his flock.

But the Omen, living within the star, sensed this man and changed him. He became a herald, a voice sent to warn people.

Again, nice layouts here and brilliant colors to these pages.

With his story out of the way, the Prophet manhandles the Legion, tossing Mon-El aside. And then it becomes clear ... the Omen is coming to Khundia.

I do have to add my own favorite bit.

Wildfire, still in the Legion HQ, decides to check in on the rest of the team members. He accidentally reminds himself that Dawnstar is gone. You can feel his pain as he sees his love.

The Omen part of the issue was only 14 pages long. The rest of the issue is a back-up Colossal Boy story titled 'Guess What's Coming to Dinner?'. Written by Paul Levitz and drawn by George Tuska, with Mahlstedt inks, the story has Gim bringing home his Durlan wife Yera to meet his mother, President of the UP.

This marriage started off strangely, with Gim thinking he was marrying Shrinking Violet. But love, I suppose, conquers all.

Will his parents agree?

The beginning part of the visit is tense.

Marte Allon has questions any parent would have, starting out with the odd beginning of the relationship. And then she brings in her political clout. The Durlans are isolationists and feared. How should she deal with that aspect of Yera.

Just when it seems that things are going to go sour and the family will be damaged, Marte gives Yera a gift.

In a weird wrinkle, we find out that Marte knew about the wedding as soon as it happened. (Her presidential powers give her some surveillance options and she has been watching her son.) She wasn't surprised by Yera; she knew about the wedding. So was the whole meal an act, a test, a way to make sure Yera respected her? The whole thing felt weird in the end.

Anyways, thus ends the middle chapter of a rough arc. 

What do you all think?

1 comment:

  1. When I read this issue for the first time I couldn't put my finger on why I didn't like it. It was only later that I realized it was, as you say, quite similar to Galactus and his herald(s). Also, the art was "off." Look at those panels you reprinted. They're all "tie-dye" Peter Max weirdness with wavy lines and Kirby crackle. Even the scenes that are not supposed to be "weird" per se, like the Wildfire scene where he misses Dawnstar or the Dream Girl messing with her hair....lack of backgrounds in the former, and NONE of the characters actually looking at the camera in the latter. Giffen was clearly trying to be avante garde and creative, which was fine, but just a tad off-putting.
    As for the back-up, as a kid I read it and thought, kinda a waste of paper. The President knew about the wedding, but pretended to not know? Kinda cruel. Hugged her son but not her daughter-in-law at the end.
    As an adult in a mixed-marriage (US-Japan) I find this almost offensive. I don't know how Jewish mother-in-laws are with their non-Jewish daughter-in-laws, but this is just not a pleasant evening.
    And that title. Guess WHAT is Coming to Dinner? That's a mean-spirited take-off on the classic inter-racial movie starring Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracey, and Sidney Poitier. Levitz should have done better.